Dress Like Your Grandma Sewing Challenge

I was scrolling through Instagram mid-March and saw that Tanya Hughes was putting on her Dress Like Your Grandma sewing challenge for a second year. I was thrilled because last year I found myself admiring everyone’s submissions and fantasizing about the outfits I would love to recreate. So of course I signed up for this year’s challenge and started searching for my inspiration.

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My grandma, Charlotte, is the avid sewist herself and made many, many outfits for herself, her children, and her grandchildren. I actually did a study of her fashion through the years for her 80th birthday and ended up painting her various outfits. So after looking through all my pictures of her, I decided on this picture of her and my grandfather from 1984. I wanted to make something fairly simple to make and that would translate well to my personal style.

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I ended up purchasing this pattern for the project from Vogue (pattern number V9265) and this blue tear drop fabric from Robert Kaufman. I thought the scoop neck and puff sleeves mirrored my grandma’s dress nicely. I believe my grandma used a very small blue floral quilting cotton for her dress and the blue and white tear drops I picked keeps the color palette similar, but adds a bit of my personal flare.

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I modified the pattern to ditch the skirt lining, add side-seam pockets, and shorten the sleeve slightly. There were a few issues with the pattern (the skirt panels ended up being ~4 inches too small for the bodice and the neckline gaped quite a bit) but I had a lot of fun with the princess seams and puffy sleeves and the cotton was a pleasure to sew.

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Overall, it was a very fun challenge to find inspiration in an era-specific outfit and sewing this dress gave me an appreciation for the generations of sewists that have proceeded me. I think I was dipping my toes in the water of sewing vintage-style clothing, so next year I might challenge myself to go back further in time (maybe I’ll try to find a picture of my great grandma).